A 16-page petition for disciplinary action for violating of rules governing attorney conduct has been filed against Michelle MacDonald by the Director of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Susan M. Humiston.
The complaint against MacDonald is focused on her behavior during family court proceedings involving Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her legal representation of Joseph Francis D’Costa. The complaint alleges MacDonald disorganization required the trial to last longer than necessary, adding that MacDonald offered exhibits that “were a mess.”
MacDonald’s attorney told Minnesota Lawyer that she will fight the complaint.
MacDonald currently serves as Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney. MacDonald was replaced as Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal defense attorney by Stephen Grigsby on November 18, 2015 – the same day the girls were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department.
Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty last month on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance of her daughters, Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters ran from their home on April 19, 2013 during a custody and divorce proceeding involving their Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.
MacDonald was labeled in April 2015 as a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. MacDonald refused to cooperate with the Lakeville Police Department’s investigation into her possible involvement in the disappearance of the sisters – even after public statements from her that she would cooperate in the investigation.
Her criminal defense attorney, Stephen Grigsby, said in 2015 that he would advise MacDonald to not speak with the Lakeville Police Department.
Deirdre Evavold, MacDonald’s former campaign manager, has been charged with two counts of felony deprivation of parental rights involving the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. Evavold was listed as the chair of MacDonald’s campaign until earlier this year.
Evavold’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin next month.
As noted in the complaint, MacDonald was disciplined by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board in 2012 for “for failing to deposit settlement proceeds into a trust account, failing to maintain proper trust account books and records, failing to promptly deliver funds to a client, failing in her duty to be responsible for the conduct of a non-lawyer and failing to cooperate with the Director’s investigation…”
Below is the complete complaint filed against MacDonald.